Culture minister says she will stay on job

The culture minister, Elizabeth Fonseca, said Wednesday that she has no plans to resign even as much of the country expects her to do so in the wake of the arts festival debacle.

The Festival International de las Artes was the topic of a scathing editorial Wednesday in La Nación, the nation’s most influential newspaper. One television station was running a telephone poll of readers asking them if the minister should resign.

Even some of her own members of the Partido Acción Ciudadana were calling for her resignation. She is a former president of that party and a close associate of  President Luis Guillermo Solís.

However, the festival seems to be having successful events.  The Centro Nacional de las Artes, the minister building on Avenida 7, hosted a youthful and loud crowd for a series of band presentations Wednesday afternoon.

The ministry also seems to have come to terms with the popular band from Chile, La Ley, which was squeezed out of a performance. The new one will be June 20 in the Antigua Aduana, and 3,500 free tickets will be made available for residents of  Aserrí, Acosta, Alajuelita and Desamparados.

These were the cantons that missed out on many performances because the ministry was unable to issue a contract to a sound and light company. There also will be concerts for other groups there June 18 and 19, the ministry said.

The ministry also noted Wednesday that it has spent 587,217,400 colons or about $1.1 million on national and international artists. Some of them played to nearly empty houses due to schedule mixups and confusion.

The problems with the festival are being investigated by lawmakers and the nation’s budget watchdog.

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